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Two PhD positions in the Language Development Department

Applications are invited for two PhD studentship positions on children’s early language development to start in autumn 2017.

These positions provide the opportunity for studying at the new Language Development Department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, which is dedicated to research on how children acquire their first language. More information about the Department, and its facilities, can be found here.

Position 1: Exploring language development in the brain

This project will examine the way that neural correlates of language acquisition develop over infancy using a combination of behavioural methods, EEG, and fNIRS. Studies for this project will adopt a contemporary approach to studying language development, using linguistic stimuli created to closely match the distributional properties of the native language of the infants tested, as indicated by corpus analysis. This project will require testing infants at different ages, with the possibility to test a cohort of infants longitudinally for some studies.

Candidates should have, or be willing to develop, knowledge of EEG/fNIRS. An interest in distributional learning is also desirable for this post.

Position 2: Environmental influences on early lexical development

The goal of this project is to identify which aspects of infants' daily experience and environment crucially impact infants' early word learning; those factors include (but are not limited to) screen use, family structure (such as the presence of older siblings), and daycare arrangements. Further, infants' non-linguistic abilities (most prominently processing speed) will be related to their linguistic development and possible susceptibility/resilience to environmental differences.

This project will entail experimental studies of infants' lexical knowledge (including eye-tracking) as well as automated recordings and questionnaire-based assessments of both infants' development and their environment. Candidates should have, or be willing to develop, knowledge of these methods.

For both posts, candidates should have, or shortly expect to obtain, a good undergraduate degree and a high quality Research Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a subject that is related to, or can be applied to, language development (e.g. Psychology, Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, etc.). Your Master’s degree ideally will have involved several months of experience and training on a scientific project. Further, experience working with children, conducting psychological studies, and analyzing experimental data will be an advantage. Native-like knowledge of Dutch is crucial since you will be testing young Dutch-learning participants. In addition, since the business of the institute is conducted in English, candidates should have excellent written and spoken command of this language.

Both PhD positions are funded for 4 years, and salary will be determined by the TVöD scale (starting salary: EUR 2,230.99 per month before tax). The Language Development Department provides fully equipped research facilities and technical support, as well as research support, conference and travel budgets.

All PhD students in the Department participate in the International Max Planck Research School, which involves both core and individually chosen coursework to complement the PhD research, in addition to training in soft skills such as writing and presentation.

The MPI Nijmegen offers a vibrant research environment in a charming university town. Nijmegen is situated 1.5 hours from Amsterdam, and has easy access to Belgium and Germany. The Max Planck Society (Germany) is an equal opportunity employer.

Applications should include:

  1. a statement (2 pages maximum) describing your research interests and why you feel you would be suited to the position;
  2. a CV;
  3. the names, email addresses and contact numbers of at least two referees who would be willing to provide letters of recommendation;
  4. your availability on the following dates: 4th, 5th, 11th to 14th July.

Please indicate clearly on your application which post you would like to be considered for. Applicants are welcome to apply for both posts if their experiences and interests lend themselves to both projects.

Electronic applications should be sent to Nanjo Bogdanowicz at

For questions and informal enquiries, contact Dr. Rebecca Frost (, Position 1) or Dr. Christina Bergmann (, Position 2).

The deadline for applications is 16 June 2017, and (video conference) interviews will be held in between 4th and 14th July. The ideal start date is 1st September 2017, but later start dates can be considered.

Last checked 2017-05-10 by Nanjo Bogdanowicz
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


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